Reflection on John 15.12-17 (Easter 5: Friday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 5: Friday, 12 May 2023, on John 15.12-17

John 15.12-17

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.’


Jesus said to his disciples. ‘I have called you friends.’  

I recently heard an alarming statistic … the majority of men over the age of thirty have no-one single friend with whom they would feel comfortable sharing their joys and problems. Basically, this statistic is saying that most men over the age of thirty have no ‘best friend’. When I heard it, this alarming and depressing statistic was being presented as evidence that our modern digital age is causing untold damage to the mental and spiritual well-being of all adults. It was being suggested that the increased time we spend sitting at our computers or other digital devices is alienating us from those who might enrich our lives through their friendship, companionship and support.

When were at school most of us had a ‘best friend’, or two, or three. Those ‘best friends’ tended to fall in and out of favour depending upon the discretion and loyalty they demonstrated during the ups and downs of daily life. As time went on, and as we matured physically and socially, we probably became more discerning in the choice of our friends. We came to know who we could trust and who we felt we could, in our turn, support. For some those ‘best friend’ relationships became life-long, for others they faded into history as we moved into different social circles. However we viewed the importance and relevance of that ‘best friend’ relationship when we were young, we probably still look back on it with a sense of appreciation and warmth. Those ‘best friends’ were important to us. All of this emphasizes the sadness that lies at the heart of that statistic I recently heard being broadcast to the world: most men over the age of thirty have no ‘best friend’. What makes this worse is the fact that this statistic was not just about men! The implication was that everyone’s circle of friends was caught up in a vanishing spiral … everyone’s circle of friends was destined to become extinct.

In today’s reading we are offered an assurance that Jesus understands the importance of friendship. Jesus came to the point of calling his disciples friends, of entering into an intimate relationship that surpassed that of an acquaintance or companion. Jesus is saying that when we feel alone and isolated we should not get caught up in the melancholy of nostalgia, but rather rejoice in the nearness of the best friend anyone could ever ask for … Jesus Christ himself.